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Published: November 27th 2015
Icelandic Hot Dog
With french fries, raw onions, fried onions, cheese, and magical sauce made by faeries.
Sunday, 20 September 2015
Akureyri to Egilsstaðir, Iceland
On our way out of Akureyri, the first thing on the agenda was stop by a gas station for a hot dog (and fuel). We got hot-dogs that were topped with french fries, cheese and an amazing sauce! After stuffing our faces, we started heading towards our next destination, Egilsstaðir. Midway, we partially passed through what is known as the Diamond Circle. The Diamond Circle is Iceland's second most popular "circle" tour after the Golden Circle. Many tourists fly in to Akureyri and make the tour from there. The circle partially overlaps the Ring Road and extends north to Húsavík and back down eastward to the Ring Road again. We didn't have time to make it to all the destinations on the circle and missed out on the Elephant rock formations and the Grjótagjá Fissure, but we still got plenty of other cool stuff.
Our first stop was the famous Goðafoss waterfall. This location was beautiful but was crawling with little flies and other tourists. The next stop took us along the southern shores of Lake Mývatn where the area is dotted with craters. We came upon a town called
Skútustaðagígar, where they had a small hiking path around a bunch of pseudo-craters (also known as rootless cones). Pseudo-craters are formed from steam explosions caused when hot magma passes over a wet surface, such as a lake or swamp. The town had few tourists and the sun had just come out. There were sheep everywhere, which greatly pleased Jen! We tried to get close but the sheep must not like tourists because they kept wandering away. The area is popular for bird watching as well. We saw a few.
Heading just slightly further east, we came upon a cool unexpected place called Dimmuborgir. The large park consists of several unusual lava formations, many resembling towers. The area has several trails for hiking which could keep you busy all day. Practically every corner was a photo opportunity. We walked around the park for about an hour or so and moved on.
Just shortly up the road, we came upon Námafjall Hverir, a highly active geothermal area. The landscape contains boiling mudpools and steaming fumaroles. It was incredibly windy when we arrived. The fumaroles reeked of sulfur and emitted smoke sideways due to the high winds. Just walking around the
area you felt like you were on Mars. If the wind shifted and you were in its direction, a stinky plume of sulfur would get you. The smell was potent, just like our last trip in Indonesia at the Ijen Crater. Curtis gagged (a lot). As we started to leave, some crazy German lady had her friend were taking photos of her right in the sulfur steam. Ugh, just imagine how her clothes smelled after.
The Dettifoss Waterfall was our last big site for the day. It was only 30 or so minutes east of the mudpools. As we approached the turn-off, we had two options and couldn't make up our mind. The travel guide wasn't exactly clear which road was best. The longer road was supposedly paved but was much longer drive. We opted for what appeared to be the shorter road. The road was gravel only with tons of blind summits. So, if our intent was to save on time, we failed. We hardly passed any other cars all the way there. We hadn't known at the time, but we were on the path to the best side of the waterfall. After parking, we hiked down a
little trail to the edge of the waterfall, at which point we had to climb over rocks to get to the fall. Dettifoss is Europe's most powerful waterfall. The waterfall was featured in the opening scene of Ridley Scott's Prometheus
. It really looks as cool as it did in the movie. Curtis hiked down to the spot where they filmed the alien drinking that liquid and disintegrates. The water was surprisingly not as cold as one would have thought. Jen sat back and chilled near the cliff's edge. We should've had a picnic there since the weather was perfect and you couldn't have asked for a better view. The area on the west bank is strangely open. Not like a field, but that there were no warning signs or railings or security gaurds. Tourists could sit on the edge of the cliffs and even play in the water if they wanted. Maybe Iceland expects tourists to have a little common sense?
We hung out at the fall for quite some time before leaving for our next destination, Egilsstaðir. We arrived at our AirBnB mid-afternoon. The townhouse was located in a newly-built housing development right near the Eyvindará river. It
was pretty swanky, undoubtedly Jen's favorite accommodation during our stay in the country. Hekla, our host, had everything labeled, laid out instructions, and prepared the room for our stay. It was still early in the day so we opted to drive out to Seyðisfjörður for dinner and a drink.
Seyðisfjörður is a really small town nestled in between two mountain ranges and accessible via a mountain-pass from Egilsstaðir. The road was narrow with tons of switch-backs and steep grades. This road was featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
when he was riding his skateboard down the road. It was even more spectacular in person than in the movie! After cresting the pass, the sight is pretty incredible. Jen attached the GoPro to the selfie-stick and held it out the window until her hands got cold.
When we finally reached the town, it was quite picturesque and seemed like it would have been a great place for a beer and dinner. However, to our dismay, it was Sunday evening and everything was closed. We tried to go to the town's bar Café Lara El Grillo Bar, but it too was closed. Too bad, because they make their
own beer there too. Iceland, like the rest of Scandinavia, is also getting into the craft-brewing renaissance. They love ales there and Einstök was easily one of our favorite brands. They make a white ale which Jen couldn't get enough of. Curtis preferred their IPA. Einstök isn't readily available everywhere in America for the time being (distributor issues), but when they do make it here, definitely try them out. The sun started coming down so we decided to head back, we were hungry anyway. Driving back up the pass was just as scenic as the way down. We hadn't seen particular waterfalls and other sites since we were coming from the other direction, but going the other direction was a completely new experience, and on the same road.
We arrived back in town and found a bistro called Salt. Salt serves New Icelandic staples alongside popular Icelandic favorites including tandoori, BBQ, and pizza. We got nachos and pizza. It wasn't too bad. It also wasn't too good. On our way out, Jen spotted the dessert case and we ordered some cakes to take home. We got back to the house and popped on Plex, since Netflix and Amazon are
blocked in Iceland.
Monday, 21 September 2015
Egilsstaðir to Höfn, Iceland
Curtis got up early before Jen (6:30 a.m.) and went running along the sidewalks on the perimeter of the city. He eventually made it to the soccer stadium where he looped around a went back to the townhouse. He went running because he had a fitness test for the military due in about 2-weeks. After getting back, he showered and went back to bed. We got up around 10 a.m., cleaned the house, and packed our stuff. On our way to Höfn!
The drive to Höfn wasn't very long and there weren't many sites to visit in this region of Iceland.
We arrived at our next location, a bunch of cabins off the side of the main road. The area was pretty and we were hopeful this would be our chance to see the Aurora. The cabins also served as stables and for the popular tourist attraction for horseback rides. Unfortunately, the horse poop also made it a haven for flies. They were everywhere.
After getting settled in our room we decided to go into town for dinner. Höfn is known for their
fresh langostineos, Iceland's version of lobster. We ate at a cute little place called Kaffi Hornið. Jen got the Langoustine Pasta and Curtis had the Lamb Rib Eye. The food was really good, albeit a little expensive.
After dinner we explored the city, which took all of five minutes. Höfn may be one of the main cities in Southern Iceland but this is not due to its size. Most places would call this more of a village. After walking around the waterfront we headed back to our room, watched some REALLY bad movies and got ready for the next day.
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